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Satanism in Japan & Japanese Satanists: Satanic religion, culture, practices in Tokyo, Osaka, Asia.

The Little Book of Satanism Goth Travel, Subcultures

This article by La Carmina originally appeared as “Satanism in Japan: Running with the Devil in a non-Christian culture” in OnlySky.

Overview: Only around one percent of the population of Japan claims Christian affiliation, so most Japanese have little resonance with the traditions and symbols of Abrahamic faiths. As a result, residents generally perceive the imagery of the Devil as an ‘edgy’ aesthetic choice rather than a blasphemous expression.


Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub… these names may conjure a negative knee-jerk reaction, or at least a concerned eyebrow raise among the general public in Western countries where Christianity has had an immeasurable historical and cultural influence, and belief in literal spiritual warfare remains surprisingly pervasive. 

While the nontheistic Satanism of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan (founded 1966) and The Satanic Temple (founded 2013) have become increasingly visible in the public eye, fear, suspicion, and even anger toward those who willingly identify with the figure of the Devil remain powerful among certain segments of the population. 

But what about countries without that heavy Christian influence? 

Only around one percent of people in Japan profess to be Christians. How is the Devil viewed without the theological perspective that demons and Hell literally exist? Does the image of the archfiend as a symbol of freedom from theistic tyranny or of enlightened rebellion still hold the same resonance for those not invested in the religious culture wars of countries like the US? How does Satanism in Japan reflect the country’s distinct spirituality, culture, history, and politics?

To answer these questions, award-winning blogger, author, and journalist La Carmina sits down with cultural anthropologist and Japan specialist Dr. John Skutlin to shed a Luciferian light on the small but vibrant presence of Satanism in Japan and to reminisce about their favorite Satanic haunts in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

La Carmina is the author of The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture, and Wisdom (Simon & Schuster), and Dr. Skutlin has researched and written a thesis about Goth subculture and Satanism in Japan. 

La Carmina: From the mid-2000s to 2020, we spent an enormous amount of time in Japan, particularly in Tokyo and Osaka. You lived in the country for a decade, and then returned to visit at least once a year as I did.

During those glory days—as we refer to them in hindsight—we participated in Japan’s lively and welcoming Satanic subculture. We became friends with Satanists, attended dark ritualistic events, and researched and wrote about Japanese Satanism. Let’s begin by chatting about Japan’s Satanic community, and what we love most about it.

Satanic imagery certainly holds great resonance for some Japanese people, who live in a society that is often characterized as highly conformist and collectivist. Dr. John Skutlin

Dr. John Skutlin: I’d be delighted to. So, my first proper encounter with Satanism in Japan was through the Goth subculture in early 2008. The second club event I attended there was Black Veil in Osaka to celebrate Walpurgisnacht, and you and I met shortly after that. For those who don’t know, Black Veil is a Gothic all-night event that started in 2000 and, being already quite immersed in Gothic music and fashion myself, what struck me most was the Satanic imagery everywhere. Sigils of Baphomet, 666, inverted crosses…the works. It was all over the flyers for the party and it was very much a strong element of the fashion. Keep in mind, this was before occult-laden Western Nu-Goth brands had come into existence.

Now, I’m from the US, and the Goth scenes I was most familiar with had always treated Satanism and any association with it as anathema—true Goth was a fashion, music, subculture, and lifestyle, and had nothing to do with antisocial behavior or Satanic Panic nonsense, which was more related to heavy metal music anyway. So this pervasive presence of explicitly Satanic imagery in Osaka really impressed me and led me to look more into what made it so popular among the Japanese people in the subculture.

The key figure responsible for the Goth scene in Osaka, and for its heavily diabolical leanings, was a man named Taiki who sadly just passed away earlier this year. Taiki had started making music in 1982 as the vocalist of a hardcore punk band but soon moved on to the Devil’s music with a dark ambient unit called Diabolic Art that combined ambient noise with Western demonological elements. From around 1996, Taiki was a regular in the New York City Goth scene and, while hanging out with people like tattooist Paul Booth and musician Voltaire, also claimed to have undergone a magical initiation in the dark arts.

Also in 1996, Taiki opened up his Satanic Shop Territory in Osaka, which in many ways became a storage space for his massive collection of occult oddities and antiques—everything from a human-sized Baphomet statue and his pet crow Damian to Freemason antiques and a replica of Linda Blair from The Exorcist. Of course, he also sold some of his collection, as well as books, CDs, and various accessories and clothing featuring his distinct occult logos. Osaka, Japan Gothic stores! Satanic Territory occult & witchcraft shop,  Japanese tattoos, pentagram fashion. | La Carmina Blog - Alternative  Fashion, Goth Travel, Subcultures Taiki, Satanic Shop Territory, Osaka

In 1999 in the same space he opened what was called the first Gothic music bar in Japan, Bar Sabbat. Black Veil started the following year, and Taiki was the star DJ at the center of a constellation of Gothic luminaries, including Hocico, Combichrist’s Andy LePlagua, and Juno Reactor, who all performed in Osaka alongside him.

I once asked our friend DJ SiSeN, a popular figure in the Tokyo underground scene, what he thought of Taiki. His reply: “Kami (a god).”

As you can imagine, Taiki was a very popular figure, and his knowledge of the occult, which I can say from my own conversations with him, ran quite deep. This naturally affected the subculture he was a part of, and I remember hanging out with friends who loved to venture down into that subterranean shop in the heart of “America Village,” or Amemura, as the trendiest part of Osaka’s Shinsaibashi district was known, just to have a chat with Taiki and pick his brains about things like the use of incense in ritual or even just life advice.

His fashion designs that I mentioned were also quite ubiquitous. I could be in a Goth club in Tokyo and if someone saw my leather Territory bracelet, with its metal Baphomet sigil clasp, they might show me their own and we’d have this kind of instant connection. The underground scene in Japan really won’t be the same now that he’s gone.

La Carmina: Taiki was a monumental figure, and Satanism wouldn’t have flourished in Japan as it did without him. While his Osaka shop and club night have now closed, there are other key figures in Japan that are keeping the gates of Hell open.

I remember my first visit to Bar Midian in Osaka around 2009: it’s a small gritty bar run by Fu-ki, the former vocalist of Visual Kei band Blood (a Japanese musical genre typified by heavy metal sounds and glam rock aesthetics). Similar to your first Black Veil experience, I was mesmerized by the space’s prominent use of Satanic imagery including a poster of a red-faced devil and inverted pentagrams, and dark red cocktails that cost ¥666.

Not long ago, Fu-ki posted a birthday photo of his young daughter holding a Baphomet plush toy in front of a red-and-black sign that read “Happy Satan Day” and decorations of cute horned bats. If this is any indication, I’m certain Japan’s Satanic underground will continue to thrive and be carried on by the next generations! Speaking of devilish bars, there’s a very special one in Kobe that we’ve visited together…

Dr. John Skutlin: Ah, IDEA in Kobe is amazing. So, I was talking with Taiki back in 2009 as I recall, and he mentioned his cousin who worked at a fetish club called DOMA in the nearby city of Kobe, which is like a second home to me. My friend and I decided to check it out and met his cousin, Midori, a truly lovely S&M mistress who is extremely proficient in the Japanese art of shibari rope-binding. There were some whippings involved and, well, I’ll just leave it at that!

At any rate, it turns out that the following year on July 4, Midori opened her own “Mystic, Fetish & Gothic Bar” called IDEA [pronounced as the original Greek, which refers to “form” in the Platonic sense]. She really pulled out all the stops with the design of the place as well, with a lot of help from her cousin, Taiki. A night at Kobe Gothic Fetish bar: Idea! Killstar Satanic occult fashion,  pentagram harness dresses. | La Carmina Blog - Alternative Fashion, Goth  Travel, Subcultures IDEA Kobe bar.

The bar is a bed of nails with removable glass covers so guests can climb up and recline on the spikes if they so choose. Lining the shelves behind the bar are three sets of six bars each—666—and the number of iron bars lining the walls of the restroom number 72—one for each demon of the Ars Goetia grimoire. Demonic tomes and art abound, of course, and the soundtrack is mostly dark electro mixes courtesy of Taiki, who also designed Midori’s unique pentacle sigil for the bar.

That’s all looks though—the best part of IDEA is the people. Midori is one of the warmest and kindest people you’d ever hope to meet, and she has a talent for finding interesting young ladies (sometimes men) to work at the bar who are fantastic conversationalists and, of course, knowledgeable about the fetish and occult world. The parties she holds, which fall on the holidays marking the Pagan Wheel of the Year, involve everything from your standard rope tying and dripping candle wax to suspension performances and scarification.

One particular event stands out intensely in my mind. It was the Walpurgisnacht event not long after the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and Japan was still reeling from the disaster and dealing with nuclear fallout in Fukushima. As part of the event, she performed a ritualistic rope-binding in the narrow and crowded bar area, lights dimmed and dark ambient music pouring through the speakers. She ceremoniously lit candles, held up a skull engraved with occult symbols, performed the shibari, and put out the candles. The whole performance had a solemn, almost religious feel, and when I asked her afterward what she was thinking about while doing it, she told me that it was a kind of prayer for Japan’s recovery, sending concentrated energy outward to affect positive change. This struck me, of course, as a very Satanic idea, despite Midori not being of any particular religious affiliation.

I later ended up working behind the bar for a couple of months as a part of my research, and I discovered that this kind of polymorphous approach to ideas about the occult and Satanism were quite common among people in that general circle. I found it refreshing and liberating.

La Carmina: It’s a free-flowing approach that Harajuku fashionistas take as well: they tend to mix and match street styles, rather than sticking to a uniform “tribe” aesthetic. As a result, it isn’t unusual to see Japanese teens wearing spiked pentagram harnesses and horns with “kawaii” pastel dolly dresses.

Speaking of the Devil, I’d love to talk more about how Satanism in Japan differs from Satanism in the West. The latter is the focus of my The Little Book of Satanism; in tracing the roots of the religion, I began with Satan’s debut in the Bible and tracked his influence on Western culture and historical events that lead us to “the Devil we know today.” The emergence of Modern Satanism is predominantly focused on European and American individuals – such as Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey, religions from The Process to The Satanic Temple, and historical moments like the witch trials and Satanic Panic.

Japanese Satanists come from a very different cultural context, but in my experience, they are just as sincere in their religious identification as their Western counterparts. What are your thoughts on how people in Japan perceive Satanism and come to self-identify as Satanists?

Dr. John Skutlin: So the first thing we should say about this is that identification as a follower of “X religion,” particularly as a marker of absolute identity, is not something that most Japanese people think about—or they think about it in quite a different way than many individuals in “Western” countries tend to. For example, figures for membership in religious organizations regularly exceed the total population of Japan, which is simply because people feel entirely comfortable claiming affiliation with more than one “religion.” It’s a common saying that Japanese people are “born Shinto, married Christian, and buried Buddhist,” which is a rather accurate description of the roles played by each of these religions in major life events.

This is really a testament to the fact that, for the majority of Japanese people, religious affiliation is not something that intensely defines their identity. In this way, many of the seemingly “religious” aspects of their lives, such as temple and shrine visits and ceremonies, are more akin to cultural traditions. Similarly, vocal identification as a “Satanist” as a large part of one’s identity was largely absent among most Japanese I interviewed, even those with a great understanding of Satanism and Satanic tattoos engraved on their bodies.

For some, Satan was a great source of inspiration. I’ve talked to Japanese people without religious backgrounds who found that Satan—in the Miltonian sense—was the original “punk,” a pure Byronic rebel who symbolized their own rejection of the mainstream. Others, meanwhile, had experiences with religion in early life, whether it be a classmate taking them to church or parents who were involved in a new religious movement, which lead them to feel a sense of dissatisfaction with the constrictive and proscriptive precepts of those beliefs and embrace the symbol of Lucifer as rebel and lightbringer. There were even some who adopted devils as their saints, with one young woman telling me she thought of Baphomet as a figure she could talk to in times of need, and Amdusias was like her guardian demon, a Great King of Hell said to be in charge of making music in the infernal regions.

I also found that Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan was a prominent touchstone that many people were familiar with through popular culture or otherwise, and even encountered some card-carrying members. Of course, the Church’s sigil of Baphomet featured prominently among the Satanic images used by the Japanese people I interviewed, although many also altered it to make their own personal sigils in line with Satanic values of individualism.

In fact, my friend Yoshiki Takahashi, who is a filmmaker, author, and critic, is very open about his Satanism and has even published a book called Satanic Advice that is brimming with humorous and insightful life advice from a diabolical perspective. The book also includes Japanese translations of LaVey’s Nine Satanic Statements, Eleven Satanic Rules of Earth, and Nine Satanic Sins.

Inasmuch as modern Satanism has traditionally been described as a “self-religion” that holds embracing one’s authentic self as one’s own god, Satanic imagery certainly holds great resonance for some Japanese people, who live in a society that is often characterized as highly conformist and collectivist. This is, perhaps, the greatest appeal that Satanism holds for a Japanese person already sensing a feeling of alienation and isolation from the society around them.

Meanwhile, the very individualistic and flexible nature of Satanism as a religion necessarily allows for a degree of ambiguity that cannot be quantified through conventional notions of religious affiliation, which also resonates with the Japanese tendency to not be permanently linked to one particular religious identity. This is one major difference in how Satanism is often viewed. Osaka, Japan Gothic stores! Satanic Territory occult & witchcraft shop,  Japanese tattoos, pentagram fashion. | La Carmina Blog - Alternative  Fashion, Goth Travel, Subcultures Symbolism at Satanic Territory Occult shop in Osaka, Japan – more images and full report here.

La Carmina: Similarly, Satanic symbols are perceived differently in Japan than they are in the West. As I write in my upcoming book, “Only around one percent of the population claims Christian affiliation, so most Japanese have little resonance with the traditions and symbols of Abrahamic faiths. As a result, residents generally perceive the imagery of the Devil as an ‘edgy’ aesthetic choice rather than a blasphemous expression.”

Here’s a fun example: In 2010, I went to a concert by a Visual Kei band called Satan. Quite a few fans wore “I Love Satan” t-shirts and threw the sign of the horns as they headbanged to the spooky music. In Japan, a person wearing an “I Love Satan” shirt would not be deemed a Devil-worshiper or associated with evildoings; they’d simply be seen as someone who enjoys alt culture. There’s a sense of safety in engaging with that symbolism due to the absence of Christian fundamentalism in Japan.

Dr. John Skutlin: Exactly, and this relatively low Christian influence has a historical basis. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate from 1603 to 1868, Japan was a “closed country” with virtually no contact with other countries. Christianity had made some headway in Japan thanks to Portuguese missionaries, but a peasant uprising called the Shimabara Rebellion, in which Christians participated, was the last straw for Japan’s rulers, who then tightened the national seclusion policy and violently suppressed Christianity, which had already been banned for various reasons, including loyalty to the Pope or God over the Shogun or Emperor.

In Japan, a person wearing an “I Love Satan” shirt would not be associated with evildoings; they’d simply be seen as someone who enjoys alt culture. There’s a sense of safety in engaging with that symbolism due to the absence of Christian fundamentalism. la carmina

So for 265 years, Japan really was not subject to significant Christian influence, and the modern period still has not significantly enlarged the overall population of those adhering to such beliefs.

It’s also worth mentioning the larger religious and historical context in Japan, which encompasses the idea that different religious traditions can be compatible or complementary, at times fusing in what is commonly referred to as syncretism.

For example, the “religion” we call Shinto, which is really a codified agglomeration of local animistic beliefs dating from prehistoric times, had no problem absorbing Buddhism, just as Mahayana Buddhism took on characteristics of the religious beliefs of the countries to which it was imported. In Japan, specifically, there was a concept known as honji suijaku [original substance, manifest traces], stating that the Japanese deities of Shinto were actually incarnations of the Buddha and bodhisattvas—or vice-versa.

Religions are not monolithic and unchanging, and this is true anywhere in the world. Blog | La Carmina Blog - Alternative Fashion, Goth Travel, Subcultures Inside the Hell Temple at Senko-ji in Osaka – more images and full report here.

La Carmina: And let’s not forget that symbols are also not static, but can take on very different meanings in other countries. For example, the five-pointed star, or pentagram, is a symbol of harmony and well-being in many cultures worldwide, including Japan. Foreigners may be surprised to see black and red pentagrams all over Seimei Jinja, a Shinto shrine in Kyoto. But this isn’t a Satanic space; the shrine honors Abe no Seimei, a 10th-century practitioner of Onmyōdō, or Japanese occult divination who supposedly invented the symbol in Japan.

Another example: visitors to Hong Kong or China may be stunned to see middle-aged “aunties” walking around in sweatsuits marked with 666! (My own aunt in Hong Kong has a shirt covered in the numbers). The Chinese are the most atheist people in the world, and in their minds, 666 doesn’t signify the Number of the Beast or Satanism. Rather, six-six-six translates to liu-liu-liu (in Mandarin) or luk-luk-luk (in Cantonese)—a slang word to signify that someone is cool or slick. Isn’t that…666?

Dr. John Skutlin: It is indeed! Speaking of differences, we’ve talked a bit about LaVey’s Church of Satan, which tends to eschew politics in favor of personal development, but in recent years we’ve seen the rise of “socially engaged” Satanism in the US and elsewhere, most prominently in the form of TST and its political activism. This brings up another interesting variance in the reception of Satanic ideas in Japan. Some of the greatest causes of TST involve the pursuit of religious freedom and pluralism and preventing encroachments upon the separation of church and state, which are virtually exclusive to Christian fundamentalist interests.

Japan, meanwhile, has freedom of religion and separation of church and state laid out in Articles 20 and 89 of its current constitution, which was mostly written by US officials during Japan’s post-WWII occupation. The articles were intended to ensure religious freedom, but also to prevent the rise of the state Shinto that helped give rise to Japan’s imperialist aggressions. This was complicated by a sort of paradox in the constitution, which simultaneously placed the Emperor, a position intrinsically tied to a wide range of Shinto ceremonies, as head of state.

Without getting too deep into it, let’s just say that there are contentious issues concerning separation of church and state to this day. For example, when an emperor abdicates or ascends to the throne, elaborate ceremonies are held at the expense of taxpayers. Are these religious ceremonies, or simply state traditions rooted in history predating the Japanese state as we know it? Some Japanese feel that publicly funding these ceremonies violates the principle of separation of church and state and have pursued litigation to that end.

For TST, fighting against theocratic infringements upon religious freedom that stem from a fundamentalist Christian element of the US population, the figure of Satan is perfectly suited to symbolize their cause, even if they didn’t already identify with Satan as representing justice, reason, and rebellion against tyranny. It’s hard to imagine Satan assuming the same kind of role in debates about Shinto, the Emperor, and Japan’s constitution. TST also pursues a wide range of campaigns for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ causes, sobriety, and so on, but the real enemy behind what TST fights against seems to be specific and deeply rooted fundamentalist Christian ideas and their harmful effects. When the opposition is not explicitly entrenched in Christianity, as is the case in Japan, Satan perhaps becomes less obvious or appropriate as a banner to rally beneath.

Even so, while I have yet to see any evidence of this personally in my research, I do feel that there is some potential for those in marginalized positions of Japanese society to adopt this kind of socially engaged Satanism in pursuit of their causes.

La Carmina: That’s true. Rather than taking a “closed country” perspective, it seems Japanese Satanists are keen to interact with Western Satanists and learn from one other. Of course the language barrier presents a challenge, but it’s one that can be traversed. Also, anyone can bond over artistic media such as films, art, and music—and I see an increasing number of Satanic works from both Japanese and Western creators.

Dr. John Skutlin: That would be incredible, and I hope that day can come soon. In the meantime, you and I can keep reporting on all things Satanic in Japan, and of course, you have your book The Little Book of Satanism so people around the world can read up more on the history and culture of Satanism. Maybe a Japanese translation can be released someday!

La Carmina: Here’s hoping for that. Thanks so much for taking the time to reminisce with me. Until next time: ヘイル・サタン (Hail Satan)!

Osaka Gothic Lolita Punk shopping guide. Buy goth alternative clothing in  Japan, Shinsaibashi store maps & addresse. | La Carmina Blog - Alternative  Fashion, Goth Travel, Subcultures

BIO — La Carmina is an award-winning alternative culture journalist, blogger and TV host. She runs the leading blog about Goth travel and subcultures (, which was featured in The New York Times and Washington Post. La Carmina is the author of several books including published by Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House. She received a journalism award from the Society of American Travel Writers, and writes for the NY Times, CNN, The Daily Beast, Architectural Digest, Fodor’s, and more. La Carmina appears on travel TV shows worldwide including Bizarre Foods, No Reservations, Taboo, Oddities, and The Today Show. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School. Follow La Carmina on and social media @LaCarmina.

Satanic Goth Osaka, Japan! Buddhist Hell Temple Senko-ji, Demon shrine, Satanist Gothic metal Bar Midian, Farplane.

osaka japan devil demon shrine namba jinja

I think you can tell I had a hell of a time in Osaka, Japan! Around Halloween, I explored the most Satanic haunts in the city — including this demonic Namba shrine, Senko-ji Buddhist hell temple (there’s a video about my visit here...)

fuki blood j-rock metal band singer bar

and devilish Rock Bar Midian — a joy to reunite with owner Fu-Ki after many years! Read on for my in-depth Goth Satanic Japanese guide to Osaka. 

senko ji hell temple osaka japan

Let’s begin our journey through the underworld at Senko-ji hell temple, located on the outskirts of Osaka! I wrote about Asia’s bizarre hell parks and temples for National Geographic — in a nutshell, these are themed around gruesome-meets-kitschy depictions of Hell, as described in Buddhist mythology. Visitors to Buddhist hell temples like Senko-ji get to preview what it is like to suffer in the lowest realm of samsaric existence.

I descended into this temple of doom with Per Faxneld, one of the world’s leading Satanic scholars (he’s a Swedish professor/researcher/lecturer, and author of books including ”Satanic Feminism”). Check out our journey in this Insta reel as well.

buddhist hell temple shrine japanese devil satan

Although Buddhist Hell isn’t connected to the Biblical Devil, there are a lot of visual and narrative parallels. If you accumulate bad karma in this lifetime, you can expect to be tortured by red-faced, horned demons in the Buddhist version of hell, which look a lot like Satan.

satanic temple osaka japan senkoji address entry

How to visit Senko-Ji Hell Temple: from central Osaka, it’s about 40 minutes by train to Hirano Ward. This historic outskirt of the city seemed to be populated entirely by older folk, which inadvertently gave the area a horror movie vibe!

Address of the Osakan hell temple: 4 Chome-12-21 Hirano Honmachi, Hirano Ward. We entered through this gate found inside the decrepit Hirano Honmachi shopping arcade.

asian buddhist hell park japan king underworld buddha

You can visit other Buddhist hell temples throughout Japan, such as the hell museum at Izu Gokurakuen, and the hell cave at Kōsanji Temple in Kyoto. Generally, they’re filled with dioramas, statues, art, and interactive exhibits that communicate teachings of Buddhist hell — and give you a glimpse of the fiery fate awaiting sinners.

Many of these attractions are on the cheesy side — like these cutaway boards that let you pretend to be Enma or Yama, judge of the afterlife and king of hell! If you’re more of a “goody two shoes,” you can put your finger into the red thread “love knot” that binds you to the enlightened Buddharupa.

hirano senko-ji buddhist devil satan temple park

Senko-ji temple is part of the Kōyasan Shingon sect, and dates back to the Edo period (1603–1867). The popular hell hall was added in 1989. The monks and volunteers that run the temple are good-natured about the hellish elements — the head monk said my Satanic horns were “kawaii!” We bought a 100 yen ticket, which gave us entry to the Hall of Hell.

buddhist heaven or hell mythology asia inferno

We were intrigued by this push button gizmo that predicts whether you’ll end up in Buddhist hell. Answer questions such as “do you waste time and money” to see where you’ll be reborn in your next life!

To enter into the inferno, we had to scan the QR code on our ticket. Ominous doors slid open…

enma japanese hell king jigoku do hell hall

… revealing this rather Satanic scene! That’s Enma or Yama, ruler of Hell, with the”king” kanji stamped on his hat. Stand before him for your judgement and punishment.

japan buddhist hell park asia demons devils

We struck the gong in front of Enma — and it activated smoke, red lights, eerie music, and a glitchy video, much like in a haunted house.

Crouched next to the fanged red demon is Datsue-ba. As Per Faxneld wrote, she’s “an old woman who’s said to sit by the Sanzu River in the Buddhist underworld, torturing souls as they attempt to cross the river. Datsue-ba is believed to make adult souls strip off their clothes, and if they have no clothes, she strips them of their skin instead.”

asian hell wok japan demon torture sinners

At Buddhist hell temples and parks, the statues are are cartoonish yet graphic: you might see people getting their limbs lopped off and intestines pulled out. In Asia’s version of hell, there’s always a giant wok filled with victims screaming as they are boiled alive in peanut oil — see above!

senko ji osaka japan hirano demon statues theme park

We watched a 10-15 minute video that expresses the terrors of hell, especially the creative punishments awaiting those reborn into the lowest Buddhist realm of existence. At the same time, leave it to Japan to add some cuteness to the experience… The exit sign looks like a round, kawaii demon.

japan weird bizarre shrine put head in rock hole

Outside, you can also stick your head into this rock to hear the sounds of sinners screaming in “Hell’s Cauldron”. (Watch my reel on @LaCarmina Instagram about my Senko-ji visit, to see what it was like!)

buddhist heaven cave senkoji osaka japan strangest temples

Ironically, the realm of the gods is located underground at Osaka’s Senko-ji. We descended the stairs into a cave lit up with a giant LED rainbow mandala surrounded by Buddha statues. Take off your shoes, sit cross-legged and feel the power of chi.

buddhist hell demon statue shrine osaka

Senjo-ji also has this koi pond with a fierce statue of Ippon Fudoson (Fudō Myōō, the wrathful destroyer of evil). The watery mist at his feet add a theatrical element to the hand-washing ablutions.

japanese satanism temple osaka senko ji

I wore my devil horns and Satanic Bar Midian t-shirt to the temple. Senko-ji isn’t a popular tourist attraction, so there were only a few other Japanese visitors on the grounds.

If you’re curious about the evolution of Asian hell gardens (first built next to Buddhist monasteries to communicate concepts of hell) and how they evolved into massive, kitschy theme parks, check out my article in National Geographic.

buddhist heaven hell park osaka japan buddhism

The “heavenly” section has peaceful Buddha statues wrapped in red cloaks… but there’s a demon lurking in the shadows!

fire rituals buddhist satan devil monks

If you’re intrigued by the Satanic side of Osaka, come to the Jigokudo or “hall of hell” of Senko-ji! I’d love to return to see the monks perform a fire ritual.

japan satanist temple shrine hell parks

As Per Faxneld put it, “It’s well worth the trip, offering a fascinating glimpse into the multifaceted ways that Buddhist groups may attempt to offer lessons in morality.” Watch our Instagram reel of SenkoJi to see video footage of this fascinating hell temple!

no face statue parco shinsaibashi osaka spirited away

Speaking of Japanese Satanists… I rode the train with No-Face (from the Spirited Away anime film) at Parco! This photo spot is located at Donguri Kyowakoku (Studio Ghibli Store) on the 6th floor of the Shinsaibashi department store. There’s also a photo area with Totoro holding an umbrella.

kaonashi no face spirited away sculpture osaka parco ghibli store

Per Faxneld and I fit right in with this naughty spirit. (If you haven’t seen the Spirited Away movie, it’s a must.)

Namba Yasaka Shrine lion mouth osaka

If you need more proof that Osaka is Satan-friendly… Here’s the devilish Namba Yasaka Jinja! The 1975 design of the Shinto shrine is retrofuturistic fierceness.

shinto ema wood plaques lions osaka

Although the shrine looks like Lucifer’s maw, Namba Yasaka actually represents a roaring lion. You can purchase themed special ema, or small wooden plaques, and write your wishes and intentions on the back.

Namba Yasaka jinja osaka demon face eating mouth Shrine

Rowrrr! I’m wearing an “ANOEL” faux fur shrug that I got at Laforet Harajuku because… well, how could I not.

fanged shrine demonic osaka swallow demons evil spirits

Osaka’s famous lion looks a bit like a dragon or demon. Legend has it that the fanged guardian deity swallows evil spirits (somehow, Per and I survived).

 The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama boutique hotel japan

I got to encounter more majestic lions at The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama, where I stayed. The hip, boutique hotel seemed designed for me: the lounge played disco music, and guests can pick up free moisturizing face masks and hair elastics, as well as enjoy a free drink for each night’s stay.

hotel room review The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama

After a long day of exploring, I was glad to unwind in my spacious room with lion pillows and a deep bathtub. The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama strikes the perfect balance for travelers — you get a cosy and artful experience at a great price.

Japanese hotels breakfast buffet The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama

The hotel is in a quiet but central location in Osaka, right by a subway station and next to a convenience store. And be sure to enjoy the breakfast spread, which included eggs, curry, and miso soup. Cheers to The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama for a marvelous time. #pr

satanic bar midian osaka fu-ki blood singer

Time to throw the devil horns at Rock Bar Midian in Osaka, a favorite watering hole for Japan’s Satanists and heavy metal headbangers! I was pleased to reunite with Visual Kei rock star Fu-ki, the former vocalist of Blood.

osaka satanist satanism bars heavy metal midian

As you can tell from the black-red color scheme and devilish decor, Midian is our type of bar. We listened to heavy metal (and watched music videos on the TV) next to Dracula wine bottles and Baphomet statues. Anyone can request a hard rock or metal song, and Fu-Ki will cue it up – and maybe belt along to it the music!

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Midian has a wide range of cocktails with Satanic names — I adore the Diablo, a black currant liqueur, lime and ginger beer mix.

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Bar Midian also pays homage to Taiki-san, the wizard of Osaka’s Satanic Shop Territory and overlord of Gothic club Black Veil. Taiki sadly passed in 2022, but the subculture that he cultivated has continued on. While his shop Territory is temporarily closed, it will re-open and people can purchase occult / bizarre / dark talismans from the website. Taiki’s Black Veil parties also live on — there was recently a Halloween edition.

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Once again, even in an ominous Satanic space, we get some cuteness mixed in. (Funny story — I learned that several of the tattooed Gothic customers were hardcore fans of Miffy the cute bunny, like me!)

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Rock on, Fu-Ki, for welcoming us back to Bar Midian. He speaks English, so I hope you’ll come to sit at his counter and bond over heavy metal!

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Order a Satan or Devil’s Beer, and enjoy the rock metal gothic vibe at Midian. It can be a little hard to find, so look for the sign on the left, and head up to the 2nd floor. (Address: 10-16 Doyamacho, Kita-Ku Kano Dai-1 Leisure Bldg. 2F, Osaka)

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One more alternative bar before we go…. This is the fabulous Farplane. I went to the new location in Shinsaibashi Parco, but there’s also one in Amemura.

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Farplane puts you in a fetish cyber psychedelic space-age universe, with upbeat dance music to match.

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The bar is an extension of Farplane Night, a long-running Osaka party that draws in an alien-cyber-alt crowd. (Think colorful hair and latex dresses).

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Farplane started as a small alternative boutique in 2005. Although their universe has expanded, it says true to its cheeky-sexy roots.

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The Farplane Parco bar (located in the basement) encourages you to get your freak on.

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If you’re in Osaka for Farplane Night, it’s a must — an enormous fetish party that might involve burlesque, pole dancers, eccentric performances, and S&M.

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I tried the eyeball apple cocktails, to fit with the neon pop theme at Farplane.

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Some final Osaka Goth travel tips — check out the cute/Gothic/Lolita clothing stores at Hep Five and Umeda Est, as well the vintage fashion in Shinsaibashi. For more photos and guides to shopping in Amerikamura, see my previous post here.

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I encountered some devilish clothes in Amerikamura, and horns in Dotonbori (the street food district).

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Dotonbori is known for its iconic neon sights like the Glico running man. This area can get packed with tourists, however…

.. which is why I spoke to Yahoo and Huffington Post about visiting less touristed destinations in Japan. I also wrote about unexpected items travelers should pack for Fodor’s, drawing from my experiences in over 70 countries.

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Soon, I’ll be publishing an Essential Restaurants food guide to Osaka for Eater! Of course, I ate my weight in takoyaki and okonomiyaki, as well as Hokkaido soft serve… I love Kansai cuisine.

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I’ll leave you with the most Satanic Japanese thing of all… purikura! I think our filtered AI faces are more frightening than any of the devilish places in Osaka.

If you have any questions about Gothic Osaka or Japanese Satanism, let me know in the comments. And for more photos and videos/reels from Osaka, add me on Instagram @LaCarmina!